The immune response is orchestrated. There are mechanisms to activate and deactivate activities. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are immune cells that act as regulators of immune responses. They are important in several diseases including tumor growth and the response to cancer therapies, Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD), various autoimmune diseases, and COVID-19. Novel drugs developed to modulate MDSCs are showing promise with ongoing clinical trials for COVID-19 and some cancers.
Cytokines and growth factors
Among the five classes of therapeutics, peptides represent a unique niche of pharmaceutical compounds within the protein class. The excitement surrounding peptide therapy arises from their distinct physical and biochemical features that present an opportunity for therapeutic intervention that can specifically target a wide range of cells and manipulate their response on a molecular level. However, challenges around their pharmacokinetics, notably poor stability have hampered more widespread use. Addressing these issues will release a new wave of drugs for urgent medical challenges such as anti-microbial resistance.
The effect of Covid on pregnant women is of great importance particularly in relation to the development of cytokine storms and the harmful effects these can have. A recent study published in Nature Immunology reported on maternal SARS-CoV2 infection and transmission of cytokines and antibodies to the neonate.
A healthy immune system is essential for defending against pathogens. However, it can also present as a liability rather than an asset. The greatest threat to survival in some of the most critical COVID-19 cases and other medical emergencies isn’t the infection itself, but rather an uncontrolled immune response to the infection that the human body sometimes generates. Understanding the genesis of a cytokine storm is key to developing strategies to prevent the immune system spiraling out of control.
Growing evidence regarding the side effects of currently available anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, antibiotics, etc.) and concerns around their appropriate role during cytokine storms has triggered a new era of innovation in the treatment of immune-mediated diseases. Owning to the ubiquitous nature and expanding role of cytokines in the various biological phenomena, anticytokine therapies have gained a leading role in this context.
Why COVID-19 pathogenesis varies so widely between different in SARS-CoV2 infected individuals has remained somewhat of a mystery. However, cytokines have served as a prognostic marker for COVID-19 disease course and outcome and their involvement is closely connected with the development of Long COVID.
The long-term effects of disease and injury can arise from the body's efforts to regenerate damaged tissue. Scarring of the skin is one example. Internal scarring of tissue can also occur which can lead to more than superficial effects. In Covid 19 and other airway infections, pulmonary fibrosis, driven by cytokines, can have serious implications.
Why do some people age faster than others? A recent study has allowed the development of an inflammation index to determine a person’s “immunological age”. This index may be useful in healthcare assessments, and may also allow early-stage interventions, such as improved diet and exercise.
Biological gradients, including ion, oxygen, and protein concentration, are constantly forming and dissipating within cells and tissues. Gradients created by the secretion or metabolism of morphogens enable complex patterning. Without these gradients, complex organisms could not develop.
Many infectious diseases, including TB and HIV are adept at forming reservoirs of disease hiding in immune cells where the virus can lay dormant hidden from immune surveillance. It has been shown that some molecules including HDAC inhibitors and some cytokines can act as latency reversing agents (LRAs) by stimulating transcriptional activity cells acting as a reservoir of infection.